A's List: Get into These New Fall Favorites
By Audarshia Townsend
This season promises something exciting for all, whether you’re in the mood for a laid-back evening of cozy dining or flashy night on the town.
Found Hotel. The trendy River North hotel catering to younger travelers boasts two concepts: Mason steakhouse and Blind Dragon. The former pays homage to classic steakhouses with roomy, decadent booths and generous steak offerings. Yet, Mason dotes between classic and contemporary with original cocktails and beef Wellington served tableside. Underneath is Blind Dragon, a slick, Asian-inspired cocktail lounge and karaoke bar. Only open for a few weeks, it’s already become a hang for the likes of Chance The Rapper, Drake and a Kardashian or two.
Funkenhausen. Chef Mark Steuer—formerly of Carriage House, El Che Bar and Hot Chocolate—merges his heritage with his new restaurant in West Town. He skillfully combines Southern accents with German classics on the menu at Funkenhausen. Think ricotta dumplings filled with kielbasa, gooseberries and oyster mushrooms; veal schnitzel with baby squash; and charred broccolini in buttermilk dressing. It gets even better as the soundtrack consists of classic and contemporary funk during service.
Hampton Social Streeterville. The Streeterville outpost marks the third in the Chicago area, plus there are others across the country. In addition to its nautical theme, Hampton Social serves as a popular stop for after-work revelers. Its cheery atmosphere makes it a popular destination for larger groups for after-work festivities as well as brunch. Dishes that are shareable are most appealing, particularly brick-oven pizzas, jar of king crab, and "naked" shrimp consisting of pan-seared jumbo shrimp, coconut cream sauce, peanuts and peanut sauce.
TAO Chicago. The River North venue is the largest one to date, situated on more than 34,000 square feet, which includes 275 seats for dining on the first-level dining room and an upper-level nightclub with 7,000 square feet. There's visual overload in TAO, and of course that's deliberate. A 16-foot-tall Quan Yin statue overlooks guests as they dine on signature dishes like lobster wontons, lobster fried rice, Peking duck, crispy snapper in "sand" and the tuna sashimi pringle.
Twain. Chef Tim Graham pays homage to famed American author Mark Twain with this cozy Logan Square eatery serving updated Midwestern fare. Inspired by his Missouri upbringing—which is also where Mark Twain hailed—Graham puts his own spin on dishes like surf and turf, the Wedge salad and Pigs in a Blanquette. For the former, he finesses it with home-style meatloaf, barbecue unagi and nori-crusted onion rings. Desserts are homey as well, from hand-cranked, seasonal ice cream paired with sheet cake to gooey butter cake topped with seasonal fruit like rosemary roasted peaches.
See previous A's List columns right here.